Now We Are Here, part or our Horizons season of work, features four true refugees stories which are drawn together into a heartbreaking tale of the pursuit of freedom. Taking Part at the Young Vic presents this extraordinarily beautiful new play.
We spoke to the people who were originally involved in our first workshops about where they are from and why they decided to get involved in this important project.
Q. How have you found working on a project like this?
A. Ian [Rickson] and Imogen [Brodie, Director of Taking Part at the Young Vic], especially Imogen…they make it so welcoming and there was no pressure. For example…this whole thing is about truth and wanting to be precise…they made sure I was comfortable because there are more vicious things that I’ve been through but I wasn’t ready to put it out there and they made it comfortable [easy] for me to realise that I can share just what I want…what I’m ready to. So it was very comfortable and very cool.
Q. You’re based in London now. How are you finding it?
A. I’ve been living here since 1999, so quite a long time. Liberating is the word. Liberating because…put it this way, for a long time I thought that something was wrong with me but then when I came here and found out that actually this was normal…that this was natural and that the church was being hypocritical and then I had to re-read the bible from start to finish a few times to realise that God made me in his own image so I am actually normal. The fact that I’m a lesbian doesn’t take away anything. I am his child. My great-grandmother was a Christian and I do believe in God so that was something that really brought me to a very comfortable place, comfortable in myself and accepting myself and loving myself because all the bad things that happened to me back then I just thought I deserved it because I wasn’t normal.
Q. You mentioned religion. How do you feel about religion now / are you practicing it?
A. I wouldn’t say I practice per se. I think religion should be a personal thing between a person and whoever they believed in. I think it’s your choice. I just got to church when I want, when I feel I need to otherwise I do it personally in my room or on the bus if I want to sit there and close my eyes and talk to him. So I don’t think that it’s this huge big thing that I need to throw into somebody’s face. I think that it’s something you have personally with you and your god or whoever you serve.
Q. And have you been back to Jamaica since?
A. No – I haven’t because of this asylum thing. When I lost my passport – well, the Home Office lost it – my lawyer said ‘better to claim asylum in that case’, and you have to wait for a certain period of time before you’re able to travel. So as soon as it’s safe for me to go back the first thing I want to do is to go to my great-grandmother’s grave because I haven’t been there. […]
Q. How was it telling your story in such and open and honest way?
A. The first time Golda [the actor sharing Tammy’s story]…when I first readied myself it was a little bit too much in the sense that I was breaking down because it’s almost like you’re there again. It just your life…you’re re-living your life so that’s why Ian got Golda to come in and do it. When she first did it in rehearsal, every time she does it actually I commented that it’s almost like I could smell that smell again of the boy burning. Ian pointed out to me that your smell and your brain are somehow connected to you memory… Just hearing her do it, y’know, it’s just as touching as if I was doing it y’know. I’m sitting there…it’s almost watching my life inside a TV or something like that.
Q. Do you think Golda, the actor sharing your story, did the piece justice?
A. I think she did more than justice. She did an incredible job. I just hope that it wasn’t too emotionally draining on in the end because it is like going through all these emotions, personal emotions. She did really well.